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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cats limp into Pac-10 tourney after drubbing by Sun Devils

    Claire C. Laurence/Arizona Daily Wildcat

Junior forward Joy Hollingsworth, left, and senior center Anna Chappell try to wrestle the ball away from Arizona States Briann January during Saturdays 81-45 loss in Tempe.
    Claire C. Laurence/Arizona Daily Wildcat Junior forward Joy Hollingsworth, left, and senior center Anna Chappell try to wrestle the ball away from Arizona State’s Briann January during Saturday’s 81-45 loss in Tempe.

    TEMPE – Despite being the shortest road trip of the year, Saturday’s visit up the Interstate 10 was quite possibly the longest for the Arizona women’s basketball team.

    Fighting off illness, injuries and poor shooting, the Wildcats weren’t able to match ASU’s quick start, as the No. 11 Sun Devils (23-5, 14-4 Pacific 10 Conference) raced out to a 22-10 lead midway through the first half and continued to pile on points the rest of the way, downing Arizona (7-21, 3-15) 81-45 at Wells Fargo Arena.

    “”It’s tough losing a game like this,”” Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini said of her team’s loss, which was the most points the Wildcats have lost by all season. “”It might be called a rivalry game, but (Saturday), it wasn’t.””

    The game – which was never really in question for ASU, as the Sun Devils held the lead for all but 78 seconds – wasn’t exactly the type of game the Wildcats needed to bring momentum into the Pac-10 Tournament, held next week in San Jose, Calif., as they dropped their ninth straight game, and 14 of 16 overall.

    “”I don’t think it hurts,”” said senior guard Natalie Jones, who finished with 13 points and six rebounds. “”It’s just kind of embarrassing because we’re not even that far from Tucson, and to come up here and play like how we played, and look at that score, 81-45, it’s embarrassing.

    “”It doesn’t hurt, it’s just sad. We knew that we could’ve played better.””

    With the win, the Sun Devils improved to 15-0 at home and earned the conference’s No. 2 seed behind No. 15 Stanford, the regular season conference winner.

    The game saw a number of Wildcats hit the floor in pain, including sophomore guard Ashley Whisonant on two separate occasions – once with a shoulder injury less than two minutes in, and then with a sprained ankle five minutes later, although she later returned – piling on to the already long list of wounded Wildcats.

    “”It seems like it’s the twilight zone, it keeps happening again and again with Ashley getting hurt (Saturday night),”” Jones said. “”It’s just like we can never have seven good people to go.””

    The physicality of the Sun Devils, which contributed to the Wildcats’ bumps and bruises, did not come unexpected.

    “”When we play ASU, we have to come prepared for a physical, long, grinding game,”” said junior guard Joy Hollingsworth, who led all scorers with 14 points to go along with seven rebounds. “”They’re always subbing in five players at a time. You just got to go out there prepared.””

    Added Jones: “”We prepared in practice, so it’s not something where we can say (the loss) is because of that.””

    The Wildcats shot just 24 percent from the field, including 12 percent from 3-point range, something that contributed to their season low in points at 45. The Sun Devils, meanwhile, hit 51 percent of their shots in the game.

    “”I just think that our shots weren’t falling,”” said Jones, who was battling food poisoning. “”It wasn’t that we were taking bad shots, they just wouldn’t fall for us.””

    Bonvicini said that there was more than just food poisoning afflicting Jones once the game finished.

    “”She probably had an upset stomach with the way we played,”” she said.

    The undersized Wildcats also did not help themselves on the boards, as ASU out-rebounded them 52-31.

    ASU finished the first half on a 17-3 run to take a 39-19 lead into the break. In the second half, the Sun Devils broke away with a 17-4 run during a four-minute stretch midway through the half, building their lead to 29 points at 62-33 with 13:08 to play.

    Senior forward Kristen Kovesdy and freshman guard Briann January led the Sun Devils with 12 points apiece. Twelve of the 13 Sun Devils suited up had at least one point in the game.

    “”We’ve had a lot of bad luck, but we’re not trying to make excuses here today,”” Hollingsworth said. “”We could have played a lot better than we did.””

    Arizona’s loss, coupled with Oregon’s 66-65 loss to UCLA Saturday night, ensured that the No. 9-seeded Wildcats will face the No. 8-seeded Ducks Friday night in San Jose, Calif.

    “”I don’t want to remember the season (like this) after this game,”” Bonvicini said. “”That wasn’t a good memory.

    “”We need to improve ourselves – right away.””

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